by James Smith, 1860
We stand in a fourfold relation to God by nature:
we are his creatures — and he is our Creator;
we are his servants — and he is our Master;
we are his subjects — and he is our Sovereign;
we are his prisoners — and he is our Judge.
But in the exercise of his free and sovereign grace, he has determined to take us into another and better relation, and therefore he has said, "I will betroth you to me forever; I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, in loving-kindness and compassion. I will betroth you in faithfulness, and you will acknowledge the Lord." Hosea 2:19, 20.
The Relationship."I will betroth you." To betroth is to engage to marry, and it often took place a considerable time before the marriage. The bridegroom is the Lord Jesus Christ; and the bride is his beloved Church; and every individual believer is interested in the honor, and is entitled to take all the comfort of it to himself. The Lord proposes to take us into the closest union with himself. No union is so close as the marriage union. The husband and the wife become one flesh. The man that loves his wife, loves himself.
But as if our union with the Lord Jesus was even closer and stronger, we are said to be members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. So close is the union, that whatever afflicts us — affects him. So identified is Christ with his people, that their sins, sufferings, and responsibilities — are represented as his. He atones for our sins, sympathizes with us in our sufferings, and assists for our responsibilities.
This marital union is the dearest. It originates in love, pure love. And as a man is required to leave his father and mother, and be joined unto his wife — so Jesus leaves all for his people, and cleaves to his people. His love to them is wonderful. They are most precious in his sight. He would sooner part with his life — than part with them. In all their afflictions — he is afflicted; and in all their joys — he rejoices. His wealth, his honors, and his happiness — he confers on his bride; and thus all things are hers, she is Christ's, and Christ is God's.
This marital union is the most honorable union. It reflects the highest honor on the Savior, and it confers the greatest honor on his people. Hence he says, "Since you were precious in my sight, you have been honorable, and I have loved you." And referring to the future he adds, "I will make you an eternal excellency, the joy of many generations." The bride of Jesus, shares in all his honor, dignity, and glory; and therefore he promises, "You shall be a crown of glory in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God."
This marital union is the most profitable union. The wealth of the husband, passes over to his wife. Just so, the unsearchable riches of Christ become ours! He provides all that we need, and provides in accordance with his own infinite wealth. He confers all that is required, so that we shall become all glorious within, and shine as if clothed with the sun without. We take part in all that he is or has, and he takes part in all that concerns us.
As husband and wife, Christ and his people are one. One in affection. One in the eye of the law. One in the eye of the eternal Father.
O wondrous grace, God says, "I am married unto you!" O glorious privilege, the prophet testifies, "Your Maker is your husband!" O wondrous mercy, the apostle declares, "I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ."
The Promise."I will betroth you." In doing so he employs his servants, and he sends his Spirit. He woos and wins, and then takes us to be his. He loves us, and by manifesting his love, he gains ours. Then he says, "I will betroth you to me forever." There shall be no divorce, no putting away, no forsaking; you shall be mine, and mine forever.
"I will betroth you unto me in righteousness." Out of sincere love, and in accordance with law and justice. Every legal impediment he will remove. Every debt he will discharge. Every obligation he will meet. On the most honorable principles he will marry.
"I will betroth you unto me in justice." That is wisely and prudently. Adapting himself to our nature, disposition, and circumstances; and putting us under a training, that will fit us to stand before his face, and share his joys forever. He abounds toward us, in all wisdom and prudence, so as to prevent evil, and secure all possible good.
"I will betroth you unto me in loving-kindness." Out of pure love. With overcoming kindness. In the gentlest, most generous, and most winning manner.
"I will betroth you unto me in mercies." As an act of grace, and displaying the most touching sympathy. Without looking for any cause in you.
"Yes, I will betroth you unto me in faithfulness." There shall be no change of mind. I will pledge my word, and redeem it. I will enter into covenant with you, and I will keep it. When Jesus espouses us, he puts the wedding ring, which is a piece of pure, plain gold, representing his everlasting love, on the finger of our faith. He then puts a splendid keeper, with these six brilliants, or costly pearls, over it.
The first, assures us that we are his forever.
The second, that our marriage is right, just, and legal.
The third, that we are wisely wedded.
The fourth, that we have a most loving husband.
The fifth, that he is full of sympathy and mercy.
And the sixth, that he will never cease to be what he is, He will be faithful to his engagement. That we shall find him the same, yesterday, today, and forever.
"And you shall know the Lord." Here he engages, that we shall become acquainted, and familiar with him. That we shall know him — so as to love him, and love him above all others. That we shall know him — so as to trust him, and trust in him alone. That we shall know him so as to live with him, and obey him, cheerfully, happily, and forever.
Believer, Jesus has betrothed you to himself, and you are his, wholly his, and his forever. Let your heart firmly trust in him, let your love be ever warm toward him, and never let your feet wander from him. Cleave to him, for he is your life. Rejoice in him, for he is your Lord, and therefore worship you him.
Lost sinner, Jesus is willing to betroth you. He has therefore sent you his likeness in his word. He has sent you a loving message by his servants. He has long waited for your reply. Will you consent to be the bride of Jesus? Will you unreservedly give yourself away to him? Will you agree to leave father, mother, house and home, and seek happiness, wealth, and all in Jesus? He can make you happy, he can make you holy, he can keep you safe, and he can raise you to the highest honor. Consent to be Christ's — and your fortune is made forever! Refuse him — and ruin, eternal ruin, is certain!